Preliminary review posted for Kodak Pro SLR/n!
Roughly 17 months ago, Kodak rocked the digital SLR world when they announced their 13.5 megapixel Pro 14n digital SLR at Photokina in Germany, with a price of $4995. The price was thousand less than its only real competition, the 11 megapixel Canon EOS-1Ds, but sensor noise problems blunted much of the 14n's impact, relegating it to a fairly narrow range of applications in the studio and other well-lit venues. Which was a shame, as the 14n had a lot of excellent design elements in it, the result of Kodak's long history with professional-grade digital cameras. (They really created the whole D-SLR category almost single-handedly.) It's with great pleasure then, that I can now report on the new Kodak Pro SLR/n, which uses the same body and most of the same digital components as the original 14n, but with a significantly improved sensor chip and analog electronics board. The result of the improvements is a fairly dramatic reduction in image noise, and an associated improvement in subtle image detail, resulting from the less-aggressive noise suppression that the new sensor allows. The result is still not perfect, but it's sufficiently far ahead of the 14n that Kodak finally has a camera that can give the EOS-1Ds a serious run for its money. I didn't have time to run my full battery of tests on the new SLR/n before I had to leave for the PMA show, but I did manage to put together a fairly complete review of its features, along with a modest number of test images and "gallery" photos for you to peruse. I'll have a complete update some time after I return from PMA, but it's safe to say that Kodak's solidly back in the D-SLR game, with a camera that produces very good-looking images (with beautiful color in particular), at a price that's thousands lower than its closest competition. Check it out!
First Look review posted for Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom!
When I reviewed the Sony DSC-F828, I said that 2004 would be "the year of the 8 megapixel digicam," and the Olympus C-8080 is one indication of that fact. Since my First Look is based on a prototype model, I wasn't able to share any sample images from it just yet. Based on its features and functions though, I can say that this will definitely be a camera to watch. Incorporating user-interface elements from Olympus' professional line, the C-8080 blurs the line somewhat between "pro" and "prosumer". While the C-8080's ultimate impact will depend on the image quality delivered by production models, its feature set and generally quick shutter response make it a model to watch as the 8-megapixel field continues to develop. In the meantime, check out the First Look at the C8080 for a full description of its features and functions.
Software Review: SoundPix Plus
Tired of emailing pictures that require a thousand words of explanation? How about sending a picture with audio embedded in the Exif header? Sound good to you? Then take a look at SoundPix Plus. SoundPix has hijacked the Exif header of JPEG images to embed any audio of your choice. The SoundPix Plus application lets you easily add audio to any JPEG, but the embedded architecture promises to deploy the technology from capture (with camphones and point-and-shoots) through Web sharing. Read our review for the details.
Full production-level update to Sony DSC-F828 review!
I've *finally* posted the production update to my review of the Sony DSC-F828 uber-camera. There's a lot to say about what I found, really too much to even summarize adequately here. The short of it though, is (a) incredible resolution, (b) enormously faster autofocus speed and shorter shutter lag than the competition and (c) excellent color, including much better handling of highly saturated reds and yellows than anything else I've seen (thanks no doubt to Sony's RGB+E sensor technology). On the downside, image noise is indeed higher than that of competing 5-megapixel models, and there is some tendency in the optics to produce the "purple fringe" phenomena seen in a variety of cameras to varying degrees. Overall, a real technological tour de force, with a number of excellent characteristics and a few weaknesses. I ended up awarding it a provisional "Dave's Picks" status, recommending it for sports and action photography because nothing else out there short of an SLR comes close to it for responsiveness, and the long 7x manual zoom is a joy to use and super-fast as well. Read the review for all the details!
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420